button to main menu  Camden's Britannia, edn 1789

button title page
button previous page button next page
button start of Cumberland
Page 179:-



  Cumberland, extent
THE county of Cumberland is in length from the Peel of Fouldry on the south to the north near Langford above 70 miles, and in breadth from Allenby on the west to Newbiggin bridge on the east 30 miles and upwards, 230 in circumference, contains about 1,040,000 acres, about 20,000 houses, and near 100,000 inhabitants. It is divided (as Westmorland, and for the same reason), into five wards, in which are eight market and two borough towns, and 58 parishes [a].
"The length of Cumberland by the shore is from a water called Dudden, the which devideth Furnesland from Cumbreland onto a lytle water or mere called Polt Rosse, the which devideth the county of Northumberland on the east side from Cumbreland. The bredeth of Cumbreland is from a water called Emot that divideth on the south side the one part Cumbreland from Westmorland until he enter into the river of Edon two miles from Pereth by east, and so on the east side of Edon unto a broke called ... the which divideth likewise Cumbreland from Westmerland unto the ryver of Eske in the north side, the which divideth Cumbreland from the batable ground until it come to the arm of the se which divideth England from Scotland [b]."
  Copeland barony. Egremont.
The great barony of Copeland lies between the rivers Darwent and Dudden and the sea, and was granted by Ranulph de Meschines to his brother William, who seated himself at Egremont castle, and caused the name of the barony to be changed from Copeland to Egremont, which it retains to this day [c].
Within this great barony and forest are divers manors and knights' fees, manors of themselves holden of this castle. Of these is Millum, q.d. Meol holme, being a plain ground running with a sharp point into the sea. It belonged to the Huddlestones from the reign of Henry III. and William, the last male heir of that family, at his death left two daughters, the elder of whereof married sir Hedworth Williamson, of Monkwearmouth in the county palatine of Durham, bart. and perpetual high-sheriff of that county under the bishop; and the younger daughter having only a legacy in money and no part of the estate, the same was sold to sir James Lowther, bart. (now earl of Lonsdale), but it was a considerable number of years before the purchase-money was fully paid [d].
"Between Eske and Doden is set Millum, a castel longing to sir John Hudestan, on the right of Dudden river or Dudden sands [e]." The first lords William and Henry, about the time of Henry II. took their name from it, but t. Henry III. the heiress of Adam de Millum transferred it by marriage to John Hudlestone [1].
  Swinside stone circle
At Swineshead, a very high hill between Bow fell in this county and Broughton in Furness in Lancashire, four miles from the latter, is a druidical temple, which the country people call Sunken Kirk, i.e.a church sunk into the earth. It is nearly a circle of very large stones, pretty entire, only a few fallen, upon sloping ground in a swampy meadow. No situation could be more agreeable to the Druids than this; mountains almost encircle it, not a tree is to be seen in the neighbourhood, nor a house, except a shepherd's cot at the foot of a mountain surrounded by a few barren pastures.
At the entrance there are four large stones, two placed on each side at the distance of six feet. The largest on the left hand side is five feet six inches in height, and 10 feet in circumference. Through this you enter into a circular area, 29 yards by 30. This entrance is nearly south-east. On the north or right hand side is a huge stone of a conical form, in height nearly 9 feet. Opposite the entrance is another large stone, which has once been erect, but is now fallen within the area; its length is eight feet. To the left hand or south-west is one, in height seven feet, in circumference 11 feet nine inches. The altar probably stood in the middle, as there are some stones still to be seen, though sunk deep in the earth. The circle is nearly complete, except on the western side some stones are wanting. The largest stones are about thirty-one or two in number. The outward part of the circle upon the sloping ground is surrounded with a buttress or rude pavement of smaller stones raised about half a yard from the surface of the earth.
The situation and aspect of the druidical temple near Keswick, mentioned by Mr. Pennant in his tour [f], is in every respect similar to this, except the rectangular recess formed by 10 large stones, which is peculiar to that at Keswick; but, upon the whole, I think a preference will be given to this at Swinshead, as the stones in general appear much larger, and the circle more entire.
This monument of antiquity, when viewed within the circle, strikes you with astonishment how the massy stones could be placed in such regular order either by human strength or mechanical power.
Dr. Burn derives Ravenglas from renigh, fern, and glas, green. Here are in winter such plenty of woodcocks, that the tenants are bound to sell them to the lord for a pence a piece [g].
  Three Shire Stones
In Langdale in Westmorland are two high hills in the road from Cumberland to Gresmere called Hardknot and Wrynose; on the latter of which are placed the shire stones; three little stones, about a foot high and a foot asunder, set in a triangle [h].
[a] Burn's Hist. of Cumberland. II. 2,3.
[b] Lel. VII. 71.
[c] Burn, II. 8.
[d] Ib. 9,10,13.
[e] Lel. VII. 59,71.
[1] G.
[f] Engraved in Antiq. Repert. I. 239.
[g] Burn. II. 21.
[h] Ib. I. 176.
gazetteer links
button -- "Cumberland" -- Cumberland
button -- "Dudden, River" -- Duddon, River
button -- "Emot" -- Eamont, River
button -- "Polt Rosse" -- Poltross Burn
button next page

button to main menu Lakes Guides menu.